Caregiver AOD Use, Case Substantiation, and AOD Treatment: Studies Based on Two Southwestern Counties

By Sun, An-Pyng; Shillington, Audrey M. et al. | Child Welfare, March/April 2001 | Go to article overview

Caregiver AOD Use, Case Substantiation, and AOD Treatment: Studies Based on Two Southwestern Counties


Sun, An-Pyng, Shillington, Audrey M., Hohman, Melinda, Jones, Loring, Child Welfare


This article includes two separate studies: the first explores the impact of caregiver AOD use on CPS case substantiation; the second compares CPS-involved and CPS-noninvolved females in AOD treatment systems. Results suggest that cases with indications of AOD use are more likely to be substantiated than cases without; and increasing numbers of children and younger maternal ages are risk factors for CPS involvement among AOD-using women. Related findings are also presented, followed by implications for practice and research.

The impact of alcohol and other drug problems (AOD) on child welfare cases has recently been brought into greater focus. Young et al. [1998] point out that studies across the nation have indicated that 40% to 80% of all families in the child welfare system have AOD problems connected to abuse and neglect of children. Although many studies have been conducted regarding child abuse and neglect, a literature review revealed only limited studies targeting the statistical analyses and explanations of the relationship between caregiver AOD use and child protective service (CPS) cases. Further, critics call for more studies with larger sample sizes and variables of more specificity (e.g., differentiate among specific ethnic groups rather than just white vs. nonwhite; specify physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse/ neglect, and sexual abuse rather than just physical abuse, neglect, and others) [Bath & Haapala 1993; Besinger et al. 1999]. This article focuses on two separate large-scale studies, using existing child welfare and AOD treatment datasets to explore relationships among AOD use and substantiation of child abuse and neglect allegations and AOD treatment and its relationship to the receipt of child welfare services. Combining the two datasets may expand and provide continuity of the understanding of the relationship between caregiver AOD use and CPS cases. The first dataset shows whether CPS referrals with AOD use indications are more likely to be substantiated. If so, the second dataset further directs us to understand who are more at risk of child abuse/ neglect among AOD users.

The first study focused primarily on how caregiver AOD use affects CPS case substantiation. It included 2,756 families from the Department of Family and Youth Services of a Nevada county. The second study targeted substance use and treatment issues for female caregivers. It included 1,008 women from the San Diego County Office of Alcohol and Drug Services (ADS) in California. This study included females in AOD treatment and compared those with and without CPS involvement.

Study I

Purpose

This study explored the impact of caregiver AOD use on CPS case substantiation. Specifically, it investigated: (1) whether cases with indication of caregiver's AOD use are more likely to be substantiated than cases without such indication; (2) whether cases with indication of caregiver's AOD use, compared to cases without such indication, are more likely associated with certain categories of referral; (3) whether the indication of caregiver's AOD use tends to have differing levels of impact on case substantiation among different categories of referral; and (4) whether certain variables can predict the indication of the caregivers' AOD use.

Methods

The data were collected from a subset of CPS referrals in the Department of Family and Youth Services computer database between June 1, 1998, and December 31, 1999. The computerized referral form (case record) is usually filled out by a CPS worker at intake and contains numerous items of detailed demographics and child abuse/neglect allegation information. Only referrals accepted for investigation were included in the study. The first referral of the first incident for each family during the period was selected, resulting in a final sample of 2,756 families.

The study included six specifically defined variables: (a) category of referral (defined as physical abuse=1, neglect=2, emotional abuse/neglect=3, sexual abuse=4, and medical neglect=5); (b) indication of caregiver's AOD problem (defined as no indication=1, alcohol abuse=2, drug abuse=3, and combined AOD=4); (c) caregiver's race (defined as Caucasian=1, Asian American/ Pacific Islander=2, African American=3, Native American/Alaskan Native=4, Latino (white or black with Hispanic origin)=5, and "unable to determine" race=6); (d) family composition (defined as biological two-parent family=l, biological single-parent family=2, and other=3); (e) caregiver's age (defined as his or her actual age); and (f) child welfare case disposition (defined as substantiated=1 and unsubstantiated=O). …

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